If there is one trend that is abundantly obvious in financial services, it is the increasing use of mobile devices to access information and serve clients. The popularity of mobile devices such as tablet computers has contributed to this trend. And to meet the growing demand, many of the software companies that serve advisors have introduced mobile versions of their software, often at no additional cost. The question remains, though, whether those solutions are truly equal to desktop versions.

Attendees at the LaserApp Software Conference, held in August, got to see examples of how mobile technology has affected the efficiency of financial advisory practices. In 2012, LaserApp (www.laserapp.com) introduced “LaserApp Anywhere,” the mobile version of its software used for creating and filling out forms. It operates across modern browsers on tablets, Macs, PCs and even smartphones. The system integrates seamlessly with Web-based client relationship management software such as that offered by Redtail Technology, Ebix, Salesforce, Advisors Assistant and Grendel. It provides account opening tools to prefill investment, insurance, advisory and broker-dealer forms.

Once the e-forms are filled, they can be printed, saved or electronically signed and securely transmitted. Imagine having the ability to pull up a form, prefill it automatically with client information, have it signed by the client and then submitted—all from your smartphone. Not only is it a paperless transaction, but it’s a highly efficient way to process business that saves an enormous amount of time. It also reduces keystroke errors, since the form is filled from data in the CRM, not manually.

Typically, it could take 20 minutes or more to manually prepare a one-page form, then fill it in manually too and print it. With LaserApp Anywhere, the same task can be accomplished in seconds. This translates into cost savings for the advisor, better time management for staff and increased capacity for the firm as a whole.

A number of Web-based client relationship management software companies offer mobile versions. Redtail Technology, for example, (www.redtailtechnology.com), offers its regular users a mobile version of its software for free. With the mobile version, you can search client records, view and update your calendar, add notes, e-mail or call clients with a single tap or even map directions to a contact’s address. It works with iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones and related tablets.

Like Redtail, Grendel offers its Mobile Office module free to all current users (www.grendelonline.com). It is designed to work with Android or Apple devices and includes access to all account information, e-mail archives, tasks, projects and calendars.

Advisors Assistant (www.advisorsassistant.com) offers both a desktop and mobile application. This mobile application can also work with any Apple or Android devices and with any tablet computer. Advisors Assistant has built several layers of security into its software, and unlike others it allows the financial advisory firm to back up files locally. Since the company’s mobile version does not run in a browser, it’s noticeably faster than most browser software.